A great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together. —Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
Pollyana Pixton is quite a speaker to see. I saw her earlier this year at the Des Moines Agile Day. She gives you the straight truth and she has an amazing background that will blow you away. Needless to say she has led some amazing projects for many organizations. Her talk was entitled, “Building a Culture for High Performance Teams.” It centered on how we can use Agile methods to build a collaborative team.
She started talking about what the goals of a high performance team are, “Amazing products and delighted customers.” That seems pretty universal for any organization. Pollyana said we can use Agile methods to incorporate the constant feedback and create a great culture. She cited four factors that can create great organizational culture.
Four Factors of Culture
As leaders we need to relinquish control and trust our teams and give them ownership. The leaders should let the team solve the challenges in front of them, we can help them figure out parts. “They own the how”, so the team has ownership of the solution. As leaders we need to show integrity to the team and expect the same from them. We need to guide the team to have proper alignment with the business. By bringing all these together we create the proper culture.
Great Decision Filter
Pollyana gave us a great way to determine if we should build something or create a service. She called it the “Billboard Test” or essentially what is on the billboard for your new idea. She said we need to create something short and catchy to detail our new idea. If you can put together a good billboard slogan that people want to buy chances are it is something that resonates and you should move forward. When you have a brainstorming session you can use this to filter the ideas down.
She was adamant that leaders should only help people solve challenges and help them learn. The important part is when we are asked a question we can answer it directly and we take ownership. This can be the easy and quicker way, but we don’t help our team develop then. If we answer with a question like, “how do you want to solve this?” We let them retain ownership and help them learn at the same time.
Push decisions down
Pollyana spoke about a Stanford study that looked at organizational decisions. As leaders at higher levels made decisions they did so with less information. She mentioned a “Trust-Based” company that is detailed in the book The Seven Day Weekend: Changing the Way Work Works. In this company the leaders trust the people at the closest levels to the decision to make the right decision.